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OPINION- Garbage is a resource if managed properly

In this ever-evolving world, the impact of waste products on millions of lives cannot be underestimated. What was once seen as mere refuse has now been rebranded as a valuable resource when managed properly. While traditional notions of waste may still persist, itโ€™s high time we recognize the untapped potential hidden within these materials. By adopting strategies such as reuse and recycling, we can transform waste into a valuable asset.

Every form of waste, whether itโ€™s discarded goods, byproducts of industrial processes, or even organic matter, has the potential to be harnessed as a resource. This transformation can take various forms, ranging from converting waste into raw materials for manufacturing to harnessing it as a source of energy. Additionally, this shift towards responsible waste management creates employment opportunities, benefitting countless families by addressing the needs of waste collection, recycling, and disposal in residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.

However, itโ€™s essential to consider the flip side of the coin-the adverse consequences of improper waste disposal. When waste is mishandled, it can contaminate essential elements such as soil, water, and air, leading to pollution. This not only contributes to greenhouse gas emissions but also inflicts significant harm on marine and wildlife, thereby impacting the environment at large.

To harness the potential of waste for both environmental conservation and livelihood enhancement, organizations like Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment (MoICE) and Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) can play a crucial role. They can engage graduates and dropout students in innovative waste management initiatives. The crux of this effort lies in recycling waste products repeatedly. Recycling serves as the linchpin of achieving these dual objectives-environmental preservation and economic upliftment.

Recycling holds a pivotal role in mitigating the negative impact of waste on the natural environment. By diverting waste from landfill sites, recycling reduces the release of harmful chemicals and greenhouse gases, thus helping to curb pollution. This, in turn, aids in mitigating the effects of habitat destruction and global warming, often driven by activities like deforestation. Recycling enables us to breathe new life into old and discarded products, conserving resources while simultaneously reducing air and water pollution.

Furthermore, manufacturing with recycled materials is far more energy and water-efficient than using raw materials. The process generates less pollution and requires fewer resources, thus contributing to a healthier planet. Recycling also reduces the need for resource-intensive activities like mining and drilling, thereby conserving natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals. This approach enhances economic security by relying on domestic material sources.

On a global scale, recycling is a daily practice for over 100 million people, and its benefits are multifaceted. Apart from resource conservation and pollution prevention, recycling supports public health, job creation, and cost savings. By reducing the demand for new raw material extraction, recycling minimizes environmental disruption and damage, which can include deforestation, river diversion, harm to wildlife, and pollution of water, soil, and air.

Moreover, recycling can lead to tangible financial benefits for individuals and communities. By purchasing cheaper, recycled items, individuals can save money while simultaneously reducing their carbon footprint. The reduction in air pollution and the mitigation of global warming are additional positive outcomes of recycling. Energy conservation is also a significant advantage, as recycling typically requires less energy than manufacturing from scratch.

Despite its numerous benefits, recycling does come with its share of challenges. One of the primary challenges lies in evaluating its true economic impact. While recycling does indeed turn garbage into a commodity, with proceeds often covering the costs of collection, transportation, sorting, cleaning, and processing, there are instances where it may be deemed cost-inefficient. This is due to increased processing costs and the potential for lower-quality jobs in some recycling sectors. Nevertheless, itโ€™s essential to recognize that recycling also has the potential to create self-employment opportunities, contributing to the broader economy.

In conclusion, the management of waste as a resource is a critical aspect of sustainable living in the modern world. As our understanding of waste evolves, it is evident that responsible waste management, particularly through recycling, offers a multitude of benefits. These include environmental conservation, pollution reduction, economic growth, job creation, and resource conservation. While challenges do exist, the merits of recycling far outweigh the drawbacks. By recognizing the value in waste and managing it responsibly, we contribute to a more sustainable and prosperous future for both our planet and its inhabitants.

Tshering, Thimphu

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